Mathew Masinge

CULT leader, Madzibaba Ishmael Chokurongerwa, will spend more time in remand prison after a magistrate ruled that his release could provoke a huge public outcry.

His hopes for freedom were shattered yesterday after he was denied bail.

Seven of his followers, who are being charged with him, were also denied bail.

Madzibaba Ishmael and his accomplices are facing charges of Contravening Section 3 (1) and (2) of the Burial and Cremation Act 5:03 and Section 7(1) and (5) of the Children’s Act 5:06.

His co-accused are Takavengwa Gwenzi (55), Siribiniyo Chikunire (53), Wonder Kabaya (41), Devlodge Katsande (47), Zebediah Sigudu (49), Aaron Chokurongerwa (47) and Shingirai Ngavafume (42).

The State said sometime in November last year, Madzibaba Ishmael and his accomplices conducted burial for Hazel Chikunhire and Winlet Kabaya, without a burial order issued, in violation of the Act.

It is also the State’s case that since 2019, Madzibaba Ishmael and others neglected, abandoned and exposed their children to various ailments, causing unnecessary suffering to the kids, whose health was heavily affected.

Police have rescued 251 children, below the age of 18, who were used as forced labour to benefit Madzibaba Ishmael at his plot 6, Lily Farm in Nyabira.

Of the 251 children, 246 kids had no birth certificates.

At least, 16 illegal graves, seven of them for infants, have been found.

More charges emanating from the abuse are likely to be levelled against the sect’s leadership after police announced that investigations were still going on.

Madzibaba Ishmael has now engaged the services of Harare lawyer Purity Chakangaise.

However, Norton Magistrate Christine Nyandoro had already prepared her ruling, after a bail application, last Thursday.

The magistrate had proceeded to hear the bail application after Madzibaba Ishmael, and his accomplices, indicated that they did not require any legal representation.

In denying bail, Magistrate Nyandoro said the cult leader’s release could cause a public outcry.

Magistrate Nyandoro said the State managed to place compelling reasons before her, including that the suspects have influence and will interfere with State witnesses.

The matter was remanded to April 4 for trial.

Through their lawyer, Madzibaba Ishmael and his accomplices indicated they will appeal against the magistrate’s decision at the High Court.

Chikangaise said she had little to do since the magistrate had already ruled but feels they have a strong case against the State.

She placed the State on notice that the matter must proceed to trial on April 4, failure to which they will apply for refusal of further remand.

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